Winter Came: 2017 Colorado Rockies

Welcome to The Stew’s annual team elimination posts. Like our video-game posts of last year, these are best done in theme. This time? We’re going with “Game of Thrones.” Each eliminated team will join the “army of the dead.” But we won’t just talk about their demise. We’ll also highlight some positives, pick out a memorable moment, tell you their biggest need and let you know when the club might be good again. 

Sorry, Colorado Rockies, but you won’t sit on the Iron Throne this season.

You impressed us by controlling your own destiny for the entire season, despite battling foes considered to be superior. Then you proved it wasn’t a fluke as you fought to the bitter end before falling in the National League wild-card game.

Despite the disappointing conclusion, these Rockies looked like a team that’s poised to make some noise, not just now, but for years to come. But that doesn’t mean their work is done. The Rockies, for all their positives, must replenish the ranks to replace key players likely to depart this winter, and to remain in the battle against the likes of the Dodgers and Diamondbacks.

It won’t be easy, but nothing ever is on the battlefield known as Coors Field.

Let’s take a deeper look at the year that was in Colorado:

The Rockies lost in the NL wild-card game after winning 87 games in the regular season, (Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

UNBOWED, UNBENT, UNBROKEN (aka WHAT WENT RIGHT)
The Rockies may have finally solved their pitching problem by stockpiling starters and relievers that attack the strike zone without fear. Depth really is the key. Playing half their games at Coors Field will always be challenging because it’s so physically and mentally taxing. That will always force Colorado to cycle through pitchers at a high rate. This is the first season they’ve truly had the necessary depth to withstand those circumstances. Of course, the Rockies lineup is always dangerous. That was true again as MVP Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon paced an offense that could be younger and more dynamic next season.

THE RED WEDDING (aka WHAT WENT WRONG)
The Rockies were in the wrong division in the wrong year. The Dodgers took control of the NL West over the summer and never looked back. The Diamondbacks took charge in the wild card, which meant the best the Rockies could hope for was what they got, a road matchup against the Diamondbacks in the NL wild-card game. They had their chance, but the best their pitching staff had to offer was no match for Arizona. Aside from that loss, the biggest issue this season was the 5-year, $70 million deal they handed Ian Desmond. He was not good, and that’s a deal that could handcuff them financially.

THE NORTH REMEMBERS (aka MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT)
There were several memorable moments for the Rockies this season. As for the biggest? Some fans might say the day they clinched the second NL wild card, but that was anti-climatic because it came on a Brewers loss. We tend to favor June 18, the day Nolan Arenado defeated the Giants AND completed the cycle with a dramatic walk-off home run.

Arenado went triple, single, double his first three times to bat. Then he struck out in the seventh. His final chance came against Giants closer Mark Melancon in the ninth, and that’s when he unloaded.

There were an astounding seven cycles in MLB this season. None were more dramatic or thrilling than Arenado’s.

WORDS ARE WIND (aka MOST IMPORTANT THING TO FIX)
As good as Jon Gray is, and as improved as the Rockies supporting cast of pitchers were in 2017, they could really use another top flight starter to solidify the top of their rotation. As always, the Rockies would have to be creative to land one, or at least willing to part with several key prospects. They’ve gone the free agent route with starting pitchers before, and the results were mostly disastrous. If the Rockies lose Greg Holland in free agency, that could complicate matters as they would also be on the look out for a new closer. Simply put, the Rockies always have, and always will, need more pitching.

Rockis ace Jon Gray could use some help in the rotation. (AP)

A DREAM OF SPRING (aka HOPE FOR THE FUTURE)
Youth was served in the Rocky Mountains this season. Seven of the Rockies top 10 prospects appeared in the majors and played at least a small part in their NL wild-card game appearance. Even more exciting? The Rockies still have top infield prospect Brendan Rogers and top pitching prospect Riley Pint waiting in the wings.

The Rockies really went young in the starting rotation, mixing in rookies German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman with ace Jon Gray and their veterans Chad Bettis and Tyler Chatwood. The experience those young pitchers gained this season should prove valuable in the years ahead.

Outfielder David Dahl and catcher Tom Murphy are the Rockies forgotten prospects after injuries derailed their 2017 season. If Dahl in particular rebounds, it would ease the likely loss of Carlos Gonzalez.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!